Interesting facts about Tony Bellew’s opponent
All eyes will be on Manchester this Saturday, as Tony Bellew takes on Oleksandr Usyk for the WBC, IBF, WBA, WBO and Ring Magazine world titles.
The Merseysider is the 4/1 outsider for the fight, against 1/6 for the Ukrainian. You can watch the cruiserweight bout live on Sky Sports Box Office. But before that, let us take you through five things you might not know about Bellew’s opponent.
He’s an Olympic Gold medallist
Usyk is a veteran of two Olympic Games. His 2008 bow in Beijing produced a silver medal after defeat to Clemente Russo in the final. But he got his own back four years later in London.
The Southpaw beat Artur Beterbiev and Tervel Pulev on his way to a rematch with Russo in the 91kg heavyweight competition. He then faced Russo again; this time edging the contest 14-11 for Ukraine’s fifth gold medal of the 2012 Olympics.
Only boxer to hold all four cruiserweight titles
Terence Crawford, Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins and Cecilia Braekhus have all held the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles simultaneously. But Usyk in the first boxer ever to hold the four belts solely in the cruiserweight division.
He picked up the WBO title against Krzysztof Glowacki in 2016. Since then he’s added the WBC title against Mairis Briedis and the WBA and IBF titles when beating Murat Gassiev in Moscow earlier this year.
He has an amateur record of 335-15
15 is a poignant number for Usyk heading into Saturday’s bout. Not only is it the number of wins he’s had in a row since turning professional. It’s also the number of defeats he suffered in a 350 fight career as an amateur.
The 31-year-old had plenty of ding-dong battles in the amateur ranks, winning Olympic medals, World Championships and European Championships. The International Boxing Association also picked him as the best amateur in the world back in 2012.
What’s in the nickname?
All good boxers need an appropriate nickname. And Usyk is no different. The Ukrainian has earned the moniker of ‘The Cat’, on account of his swiftness, agility and slickness inside the ring.
He boxes with a straightforward tone, favouring a serious approach rather than one which focuses on flamboyancy or showboating. That should stand him in good stead against Bellew, who may have his work cut out living up to his own ‘Bomber’ nickname.
He played football until he was 15
Plenty of high-profile sports stars are multi-talented. Joe Hart could’ve been a cricketer, while Michael Jordan switched between basketball and baseball. Usyk is the same. The Kiev-born fighter played football up until he was 15-years-old.
He was in the academy of then-Ukrainian Premier League side SC Tavriya Simferopol. It took until 2002 for the man nicknamed The Cat to switch to boxing. That decision looks pretty vindicated now.
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